MENOMONIE — One word could be used to describe the Chi-Hi girls basketball team's performance on Friday evening — impressive.
The Cardinals jumped on Menomonie early and never looked back on the way to a 68-46 victory on Friday evening in a battle of Big Rivers Conference heavy hitters.
Caelan Givens scored 16 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Cardinals (3-1, 2-0). Alexis Zenner scored 13 points, Ashley Hanley added 12 on four 3-pointers, Aaliyah McMillan had 11 points and Brooke Rooney added nine for Chi-Hi but it was the defense that drew the first praise from coach Becca Bestul.
"What I told my girls after the game is that everything started with defense," Bestul said. "We've been working a lot of defensive stuff because our first couple games were iffy on the defensive end. We played solid defense especially against their two very good players. They have a solid team, very athletic team but their two players that are scoring the majority of their points right now, we talked about how to guard them and we did a great job.
"I think the entire team was on board, they did what they were supposed to do defensively and that just led to offense."
Chi-Hi hit eight 3-pointers in total and was 18 of 26 from the free throw line in the win.
"All of our kids can score," Bestul said. "They all can shoot it, they all have the ability to hit a shot when somebody leaves them open, which is great."
Chi-Hi opened the season with a 99-64 defeat to La Crosse Aquinas but has shown improvement on the defensive end since then, rattling off wins over Onalaska (77-62) and Hudson (70-59) leading into Friday's game.
Elle Bemauer led Menomonie (2-2, 1-1) with 13 points.
"When we play together and we play within our system, we play really well," Bestul said. "It's fun to watch."
The Cardinals have little time to celebrate the win as they hit the road again on Saturday as they head to Stevens Point to face the state-ranked Panthers.